18 October, 1999
So far, I have been pleasantly surprised by the weather in this part of Antarctica. And maybe just a little disappointed. I had visions of this terribly cold place, and indeed it can get very cold. But today in Mactown the high temperature was a balmy 21F with a low temperature of 6F. The winds gusting to 30 MPH made it feel colder. The lowest wind-chill was -27F. I have gone ice fishing in Wisconsin in weather colder then this. One of the factors, of course, is that McMurdo is relatively near the ocean, and although the sea around the station is frozen, the ocean still has a moderating effect. If you go inland, the increased altitude and increased distance to the ocean causes the temperatures to go much lower. At the pole, 800 miles inland, the temperature is -52F.
I spent most of the day in Crary Lab today. It was a big day for the Cape Roberts Project. They held their first meeting to discuss the progress of the drilling. They have drilled about 150 meters into the sea floor. Some preliminary samples have been analyzed and they think the age of the rock is Oligocene, which would make it about 24 to 34 million years old. This is about where they were hoping to start. Tomorrow we will be starting to do the real work of analyzing the cores. It will be a lot of work, but everyone seems excited to get started. It has taken a lot of time, money and hard work to obtain these samples. Each scientist wants to make the most of the opportunity and get as much information as they can from each core.
I had planed on talking about the movements of the sun today. I was going to take pictures of shadows and have you figure out the angle of the sun here. Guess what? Just as I went to take the pictures, the clouds moved in and there were no shadows to be seen. I felt like a groundhog on Groundhogs Day. Well. I'll try again tomorrow. Until then see if you can find out what "solar noon" is. Look it up if you need to. I am also going to try to view the sunset tonight. I only have a couple to weeks for the cahnce.
I had a nice diversion today. I was asked by one of the New Zealand scientists, Mike Hannah, asked me if I wanted to take a ride over to Scott Base, which is the Kiwi center for Antarctic research. Hey, anything to get out of town. It was a short drive, only a couple of miles, but on the way I got my first view of Mt. Erebus, the active volcano on Ross Island. I hope to get a better view of the volcano when I get a helo ride to Cape Roberts later in my stay. Even this fleeting glimpse was quite inspiring. At times, not this time, you can see puffs of steam coming from the top on the mountain. The views around here are so beautiful and constant, it is easy to take them for granted. No image could ever do them justice. I guess if you really want to appreciate the view, you are going to have to come here yourself.
Bye for now. We'll see what's in store for tomorrow.
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